Even though consumers enjoy having access to the world, they are becoming all too aware of how much their personal data is being misused. According to the Nielsen 2021 Trust in Advertising Survey, 36 percent of respondents distrust ads on social networks, while 36 percent distrust ads served in search engine results.
“As people more frequently shop online, they’ve realized the top ads are not necessarily the best option,” says Josh Stephens, director of Digital Marketing at CWT, one of the biggest travel companies worldwide. If consumers do not recognize the company name, they are not going to pay attention, and the ads are like a screen blind spot.
Daniel Creed, head of marketing, planning and effectiveness at Santander UK, adds: “as the media becomes increasingly scrutinized and politicized, brands run the risk of becoming embroiled in controversy simply by their presence on a given platform at the wrong time.”
It is therefore essential that businesses ensure their branding, advertising, and marketing methods are all ethical, and that they protect themselves from deception by advertising fraud.
As a result, unauthorised use of a company’s intellectual property by a third party can cause confusion among customers and prospects in terms of business offering, financial model, and company values.
Advertising fraud has become a part of the digital age, and if it is unchecked, it can become more rampant. You can take the example of affiliate marketing. It is a popular strategy for businesses that are digitally-savvy, but it also has its risks.
Affiliate marketing is the most profitable way to make money.
Even for well-known companies, working with affiliates enables them to reach audiences that are outside of their traditional channels. Affiliates provide brands and marketers with the opportunity to reach and engage their target audience, creating not only an opportunity for acquisition, but also the opportunity to develop long term relationships with their audiences because of a trusted introduction and recommendation.
When it comes to paid search, traditional channels and affiliates often collide. In that instance, monitoring is required to prevent cross-channel cannibalization. “Brands today have become very adept at using paid search as a source of high intent traffic – particularly branded search,” says explains Van Chappell, general manager at BrandVerity, a US-headquartered company which provides paid search and affiliate monitoring tools.
He notes that when affiliates also appear on a search engine’s results page, they “compete” with the brands paid search team, driving up the cost of that traffic. It is also unlikely that traffic from branded search will be incremental to traffic that the brand would get anyway, says chappell.
Chappell also says that there are sometimes “ad hijacks”. “You will see that affiliates are copying ads that are already being used by brands,” he says. “When consumers type in a search term, they see a search result that looks like the brand they were searching for. So they click on the ad, and they will go to the site. So to the consumer, everything is fine.”
Behind the scenes of the festival.
Everything in this world is fine. Even if the brand ultimately wins the sale, if consumers detour on the consumer journey, it causes the company to incur more cost. This is because the commissions that paid affiliates are receiving are much more than the cpc that paid search teams are paying to a search engine.
The reputation of the company also has an underlying cost, one that is felt by its affiliates and, ultimately, the brand of the company. “We think that the affiliate channel is very important for brands because it is a great marketing channel because it is performance based,” Chapell says.
In general, affiliate managers, agencies and opms spend a lot of time building relationships and making connections between publishers. In that way, publishers come up with really interesting ways to reach the consumers and brands, and then consumers make purchases.
Chappell further adds that having a bad reputation forces high-quality publishers to walk away. He also said that it was damaging for the channel, with the result that it became much harder to have an effective affiliate program.
When brands have an affiliate channel that is clean and well run, they attract the best partners who promote their brands and enable them to reach new audiences.
Chappell goes further and explains some of the benefits: Sometimes the things that you are doing in affiliate fraud can cause you to become distracted and to take you to places that you did not intend to go to. In fact, if your brand can keep your search engine clean from all these distractions, the consumer knows exactly where to go to get what they want. It will be a better experience for consumers.
You must keep it clean.
Santander has always said that it is not the responsibility of the customers to make the difference between platforms that are doing something wrong and brands that are not taking precautions.
He says that brands should ensure that they make informed decisions and that they take the necessary steps to reduce and minimise those risks. Brands must understand the risks associated with each media channel and develop a comprehensive strategy for protecting their brand. They must also develop the right tactics to protect themselves.
To maintain a clean affiliate model, companies must monitor their affiliates. There are two types of monitoring: manually monitored and automated monitoring.
One way of doing the latter is through an affiliate manager who types in some branded or non-branded keywords in a search engine and watches the adverts that appear.
However, there are still many challenges to this approach. This is not only time-consuming, but it is also arguably ineffective, since fraudulent adverts often look exactly like the genuine ones. It is also impossible to keep track of the different searches that you see from only one location. There is also no manual monitoring of all those searches.
As for automated monitoring, this means that all the affiliates are monitored from one place around the clock. If a false advert is posted, brands can quickly catch up with unsavoury partners, while protecting the customer journey and their marketing budget.
By doing that, the brand reputation is kept intact, and the affiliates that are the most successful also become important. This in turn promotes and strengthens the brand, and it causes a virtuous circle of good behavior that continually repeats itself.
Marketing in the digital era promises boundless opportunities, but brand protection is more complex than ever. Because you have the right tools in your hands, the results are very clear.